Minnesota company offers free tattoos, waxing as part of fight to keep employees

Anytime Fitness offers competitive compensation packages to its employees. However, the Woodbury-based company found it needed to deliver rich, creative perks too.

As a result, its 350 head office employees now receive unlimited mental health counseling for themselves and their families. Plus, they get Fridays off during the summer, free tattoos, waxing, and gym memberships. And, if employees read a book and submit a report to executives, they can get $50 to $200.

In Minnetonka, family-owned King Technology will soon spend more than $1 million to buy and renovate a nearby building so the pool and spa water treatment company’s 70 employees can have more of space, adjustable desks, a larger fitness center, ventilated windows, access to Lone Lake Park and for the first time a food market.

In Alexandria, Minnesota, growing aluminum extrusion company Alexandria Industries has 60 job openings. In April, the company raised factory wages by $2 an hour. It also recently cut employee medical premiums nearly in half and offered its 561 workers “referral bonuses” of $2,000 for every new hire they bring to the company.

“There’s more. We threw the book on that,” said spokeswoman Patty Hoffman, whose company faced a tight workforce before the pandemic and an even more competitive landscape now. .

Like Alexandria Industries and Anytime Fitness, more employers are stepping on the accelerator of wage increases and solid benefits designed to retain workers and attract new ones as they grapple with the big quit, a historically low unemployment rate and high job vacancies which recently reached a record 214,000 positions in Minnesota.

Last week, employment services firm Robert Half Inc. found that 41% of workers in Minneapolis were considering looking for a new job. In Minnesota — and nationally — labor officials report there are now two job openings for every unemployed person.

“It’s just crazy” and it puts a lot of pressure on employers, said Jim Link, director of human resources for the Society for Human Resource Management, which has 316,000 members.

Minnesota employers have raised wages an average of 3.4% over the past year, the state said last week. They’re also adding more benefits, flexible work options and a new category of “worker lifestyle” enhancements to get people joining and staying on board, Link said.

Some benefits even extend to pets.

“I don’t think there’s a company in Minnesota today that doesn’t rethink every element of what it offers an employee to make it an attractive place to work,” said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Jobs and Economic Development. “The workers are in the driver’s seat.”

SHRM has found that workers want higher raises than many employers can afford. Employers are trying to make up the difference with benefit improvements and lifestyle benefits such as flexible hours and help with elder or child care, Link said.

Chuck Runyon, CEO and co-founder of Anytime Fitness parent company, Self Esteem Brands, said his company has always had a strong culture.

“Now we are going to take it to another level,” he said. “Employees have more influence than ever before. They can literally choose to work anywhere.”

And employers can choose how they respond to the pressures. Runyon chooses to use it as inspiration for a better workplace.

At Anytime Fitness, many of its franchise gyms were temporarily closed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The parent company saw its revenue plummet by almost 30% and laid off 80 workers.

The business recovered, staff were rehired, and annual revenue rebounded to $2 billion. But its recovery coincided with what people are calling the Great Resignation, as a shortage of workers means it’s harder to keep and hire staff.

Self Esteem Brands has hired 44 workers this year and needs about 35 more by the end of the year, Runyon estimates. It has set aside about $20 million a year for the welfare, personal and professional development of its 700 employees, half of whom work in Woodbury.

“We don’t see it as a cost or an expense. Ultimately, we see it as an investment in our team that grows the business. If they grow, the business will grow,” Runyon said. .

Benefits include subsidizing college expenses, offering free wellness classes, nutritional coaching and mental health counseling in addition to health insurance and a 401(k) match.

But Runyon said he believes small things can also make a big difference. The report of the book is to motivate workers to keep learning. And then there is free wellness coaching, tattoos, waxing.

“It’s just those little things that show, ‘We want you to grow. We care about you and we want to push you to your best performance,” Runyon said.

Like many companies, Self Esteem Brands now offers hybrid work options, with office workers on campus two days a week. There are also no meetings on Wednesdays so that employees can focus on in-depth projects. There is also no working Friday for the summer.

Other employers have their own recipe for retaining workers. Installed Building Products, like many companies, offers subsidized emergency child care.

King Technology began offering workers subsidized “legal shield” and identity theft protection services during the pandemic and decided to significantly expand its fitness center in its new building in Minnetonka, said co-owner Alex King.

The company also offers chair massage services and is moving to a “Flexible Hours” program so workers can take off every other Friday.

“There are things that we invest in that are very important and help bring people in. But at the end of the day, it’s about our vision and our mission and our fulfilling lives every day,” he said. said King.

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